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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 May;12(5):460-3.

Serum antibodies to JC virus, BK virus, simian virus 40, and the risk of incident adult astrocytic brain tumors.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Genomic sequences of the human polyomaviruses, JC virus (JCV) and BK virus (BKV), and simian virus 40 (SV40) have been reported from several types of human brain tumors, but there have been no population-based seroepidemiologic studies to evaluate the association between polyomavirus infection and brain tumors. We conducted a case-control study, nested within a prospective cohort, to investigate the association between antibodies to JCV, BKV, and SV40, as measured in serum collected 1-22 years before diagnosis and incident primary malignant brain tumors. Brain tumor cases (n = 44) and age-, gender-, and race-matched controls (n = 88) were identified from participants of two specimen banks in Washington County, Maryland. IgG antibodies to the capsid proteins of JCV and BKV were assessed using ELISAs. SV40-neutralizing antibodies were measured using plaque neutralization assays. Similar to the general population, the prevalence of JCV and BKV infection was high in our study population (77 and 85%, respectively). Antibodies to SV40 were less prevalent (11%). The odds ratio for subsequent brain tumor development was 1.46 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.61-3.5] for JCV, 0.66 for BKV (95% CI, 0.22-1.95), and 1.00 for SV40 (95% CI, 0.30-3.32). Given the high prevalence of JCV and BKV infections and the millions who were potentially exposed to SV40 through contaminated polio vaccines, future studies should attempt to replicate these findings.

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